Flex User Group 2012 Tour: European Dates

We’re also planning to visit some European Flex User Groups. We hope that you’ll be able to join one of these meetings. We’ll be in Europe for two weeks only but we believe that this tour will be an unique opportunity to discuss the future of Flex, the role of Apache, the Flash roadmap and answer your questions.

Europe

Announcing Flex User Group 2012 Tour: North America Dates

As we promised at the end of last year, we are kicking off an international Flex User Group Tour to discuss recent announcements regarding Flex and the Flash Platform. These meetings will clarify any changes to Flex and Flash including updates on the runtimes and tooling. Additionally, the sessions will educate folks about the Apache process and what it takes for Flex SDK, as a project within the Apache Software Foundation, to continue to thrive. These meetings will be the best place to get accurate and up-to-date information about anything related to Flex.

Below are the cities and dates for our first wave of visits in North America. Europe and Asia dates will be posted shortly. Please refer to individual user group sites for detailed descriptions about the Flex sessions and speakers, including information on how to register to attend. Note: This information will be posted in the coming weeks and we will update this blog post with more detailed information as it becomes available.

We hope to meet and talk with as many developers as possible – so mark the dates and we’ll see you there!

North America

 

A Great Ending To 2011

I am pleased to announce that Flex as been accepted into the Apache Incubator. With weekends and holidays, I suspect that it will still be several days before we get up and running with mailing lists, bug base, source control, etc, so we continue to appreciate your patience. However, I’m really looking forward to 2012 and beyond, and I hope you are too.

-Alex

Update on the Apache Proposal

We received a whopping 65 requests to be on the initial committers list for the proposal to become a Podling in the Apache Incubator! It is great to see such enthusiasm from the community.

We are discussing with Apache experts as to how many folks we can put on the list. I think it will be at least 24. Initial committers also form the Podling’s Project Management Committee and can vote in other committers who establish a track record by submitting patches that get accepted. I am not looking forward to having to deny so many of these requests. Once we pick a number, I will send each of you an email of whether your request was accepted or denied.

If you requested to be a committer and are not chosen to be on the initial list, please continue to show your support by contributing patches via the JIRA bug base that will be set up. That way you can be promoted to committer as soon as possible.

Thank you to all who requested to be a committer. I look forward to working with you on Flex.

-Alex

Call For Committers

One of the requirements for a proposal to incubate a new project in the Apache Software Foundation is to have an initial set of committers. A committer has to sign a license agreement with Apache in order to obtain write access to the source code repository. A committer’s responsibilities are listed at http://www.apache.org/dev/committers.html#committer-responsibilities.

As we announced at the Flex Community Summit earlier this week, we are looking to identify the initial committers for the Flex SDK incubation proposal. If you want to be on this list of initial committers, please email me at aharui@adobe.com by noon PST Friday, December 16, 2011. We may limit the initial set to around 12, but you can still become a committer after that by following the process outlined by Apache. And remember, if you don’t want to be a committer, you can still contribute in many ways.

We are excited to be engaging the community in the shaping of Flex, and look forward to your future contributions.

Alex Harui
Flex SDK Team
Adobe Systems, Inc.

An Update on Flex

I wanted to share a brief update on where we are with our preparation of proposals for incubation of Flex SDK and BlazeDS to the Apache Software Foundation as well as our commitment to engaging with the Flex community further.

Regarding the incubation proposals, we have received all of the necessary Adobe legal clearance in order to contribute the full Flex SDK (including MXML compiler, automation libraries and data visualization components) to Apache. As such we have a draft incubation proposal for Flex SDK prepared and are aiming to post that to the Apache incubation mailing list within the next 1-2 weeks. Once the proposal has been posted, the normal process is that community members review the proposal for a period of time (normally 72 hours) after which the ASF votes. A positive vote means the project has been accepted as an incubation podling into Apache. Keep an eye out on this blog for regular status updates, including a link to the proposal once its been posted to the Apache incubation mailing list.

As for BlazeDS, at this time we are still working on legal clearance but aim to have that before the end of the year such that we can post the BlazeDS incubation proposal to the Apache mailing list at the start of the new year.

In order to better facilitate discussion with our broad developer community, next Monday (12/12/11) and Tuesday (12/13/11) Adobe is hosting a Flex Community Summit where we are inviting a number of Flex community leaders and enterprise developers to participate in a discussion on a variety of topics. We will be discussing the recent announcements regarding Flex and the Flash Platform as well as educating all attendees about the Apache process and what it takes for a project to thrive within Apache. Unfortunately, due to budget, we were unable to invite everyone we would have liked to the summit. Most of the summit sessions and ensuing discussions will be video-taped and posted publicly after the summit. Additionally, we are working on a Flex Whitepaper that we will publish on the Adobe Developer Center which will recap much of the content covered in the summit.

And lastly, in order to replicate the same discussions that will happen at the summit, we are organizing a multi-city international Flex User Group tour that we are looking to kick off in early 2012.

We’ll be sure to share regular updates on this blog as the Apache proposals progress, the Flex Community Summit content is posted and cities/dates are finalized for the 2012 Flex User Group tour.

Deepa Subramaniam
Group Product Manager, Adobe

Flex SDK Security Patch Now Available

A security patch for the Flex SDK is now available to address a vulnerability that will cause many Flex applications to be vulnerable to cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks.  These applications must be patched in order to protect user data. Please review this bulletin to determine if your applications are at risk and to obtain instructions on how to patch your applications.

If you have any questions about the security bulletin, please email PSIRT@adobe.com

Flex 4.6 SDK and Flash Builder 4.6 Updates Now Available.

The Flex and Flash Builder teams are excited to announce the availability of Flex 4.6 SDK and Flash Builder 4.6 updates. Flash Builder 4.6 is a free update to Flash Builder 4.5 and provides expanded support for mobile application development and all the tools you need to take advantage of the new features in Adobe AIR 3.0 and Flash Player 11.

A lot is included in this update, so much so that we couldn’t deliver it in the Adobe Application Manager.  This means Flash Builder 4.5 users won’t  automatically be notified about the update and will have to download the full Flash Builder 4.6 installer and enter their Flash Builder 4.5 serial number.

You can download the full installer  from Adobe.com. Please note: you must uninstall your previous version of Flash Builder 4.5 or 4.5.1 before installing 4.6.   By default the Flash Builder uninstall program will preserve your preferences and workspace so you can easily reimport them into Flash Builder 4.6.  If you require the standalone Flex 4.6 SDK, you can download the build from the Adobe opensource site.

Your Questions About Flex

This article has been updated as of 11/15/11 – additional questions and answers below.

With the recent announcements this week, we know that the Flex community has many questions regarding Adobe’s plans around the Flex SDK. Let us try to answer the questions we’ve heard.

Is Adobe still committed to Flex?

Yes. We know Flex provides a unique set of benefits for enterprise application developers.  We also know that the technology landscape for application development is rapidly changing and our customers want more direct control over the underlying technologies they use. Given this, we are planning to contribute the Flex SDK to an open source foundation in the same way we contributed PhoneGap to the Apache Foundation when we acquired Nitobi.

This project will be jointly led by some developers from the Flex SDK engineering team along with key developers from the Flex community, including members of the Spoon Project and contributors from enterprise companies currently using Flex. Flex SDK feature development will continue under a new governance model and Adobe will continue to contribute to the Flex SDK.

Does Adobe recommend we use Flex or HTML5 for our enterprise application development?

In the long-term, we believe HTML5 will be the best technology for enterprise application development. We also know that, currently, Flex has clear benefits for large-scale client projects typically associated with desktop application profiles.

Given our experiences innovating on Flex, we are extremely well positioned to positively contribute to the advancement of HTML5 development, starting with mobile applications. In fact, many of the engineers and product managers who worked on Flex SDK will be moving to work on our HTML efforts. We will continue making significant contributions to open web technologies like WebKit & jQuery, advance the development of PhoneGap and create new tools that solve the challenges developers face when building applications with HTML5.

Will previously discussed Flex roadmap features be released?

The Flex roadmap will be determined by the governing board once it’s been established. We plan to contribute framework features previously highlighted as part of Adobe’s Flex roadmap, into this new project.

Is Adobe still committed to Flash Builder?

Yes. Flash Builder will continue to be developed and Adobe will work to ensure Flex developers can use Flash Builder as their development tool with future releases of Flex SDK.

Will Adobe continue to support customers using Flex?

Yes. Adobe will continue to honor existing Flex support contracts.

So, what’s next?

We are close to wrapping up development on Flex 4.6 SDK and it will be released on November 29th 2011. Following this, we will begin the process of moving to the open development model described above.

On a personal note, we recognize we could have handled the communication better and promise to share regular updates over the coming weeks and months.

We believe these changes to the Flex SDK development model will ensure that the broader community can continue to use and directly enhance Flex for many years to come.

 

************ UPDATE – 11/15/11 ************

 

Further to the above questions and answers, we received many comments for clarification and additional information on certain topics. We have provided answers to these below:

What specifically is Adobe proposing?

We are preparing two proposals for incubating Flex SDK and BlazeDS at the Apache Software Foundation.

In addition to contributing the core Flex SDK (including automation and advanced data visualization components), Adobe also plans to donate the following:

  • Complete, but yet-to-be-released, Spark components, including ViewStack, Accordion, DateField, DateChooser and an enhanced DataGrid.
  • BlazeDS, the server-based Java remoting and web messaging technology that enables developers to easily connect to back-end distributed data and push data in real-time to Flex applications.
  • Falcon, the next-generation MXML and ActionScript compiler that is currently under development (this will be contributed when complete in 2012)
  • Falcon JS, an experimental cross-compiler from MXML and ActionScript to HTML and JavaScript.
  • Flex testing tools, as used previously by Adobe, so as to ensure successful continued development of Flex with high quality

Adobe will also have a team of Flex SDK engineers contributing to those new Apache projects as their full-time responsibility. Adobe has in-development work already started, including additional Spark-based components.

Isn’t Adobe just abandoning Flex SDK and putting it out to Apache to die? 

Absolutely not – we are incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved with Flex and know that it will continue to provide significant value for many years to come. We expect active and on-going contributions from the Apache community. To be clear, Adobe plans on steadily contributing to the projects and we are working with the Flex community to make them contributors as well.

Flex has been open source since the release of Flex 3 SDK. What’s so different about what you are announcing now?

Since Flex 3, customers have primarily used the Flex source code to debug underlying issues in the Flex framework, rather than to actively develop new features or fix bugs and contribute them back to the SDK.

With Friday’s announcement, Adobe will no longer be the owner of the ongoing roadmap. Instead, the project will be in Apache and governed according to its well-established community rules. In this model, Apache community members will provide project leadership. We expect project management to include both Adobe engineers as well as key community leaders. Together, they will jointly operate in a meritocracy to define new features and enhancements for future versions of the Flex SDK. The Apache model has proven to foster a vibrant community, drive development forward, and allow for continuous commits from active developers.

How will the open source governance work? Where will it be hosted? Who will manage the project? Will Adobe still effectively control the Flex roadmap? How can I contribute?

We are actively working on getting the Flex SDK and BlazeDS projects accepted as incubator podlings at the Apache Software Foundation. We expect to have more information to share on progress in the next few weeks.

We are actively working with members of the Flex community to ensure they are involved in the project management along with Adobe engineers.

What guarantees can Adobe make in relation to Flex applications continuing to run on Flash Player and Adobe AIR?

Adobe will continue to support applications built with Flex, as well as all future versions of the SDK running in PC browsers with Adobe Flash Player and as mobile apps with Adobe AIR indefinitely on Apple iOS, Google Android and RIM BlackBerry Tablet OS.

How will open source Flex development continue against Flash Player and Adobe AIR?

Flex SDK development will continue against released versions of the Flash Player and Adobe AIR runtimes, providing a stable and supported environment for Flex applications.

You said Adobe is committed to Flash Builder – what exactly does that mean in the context of future Flex SDK support?

Future versions of Adobe Flash Builder will continue to provide code editing, compilation, debugging and profiling support for Flex applications. Adobe will undertake the required work to ensure Flash Builder is compatible with future releases of Flex SDK.

Previously communicated road map features, such as enhanced code editing, real-time error highlighting and compile-as-you-type support will be available to both ActionScript and Flex developers.

Is Flex SDK still a viable technology option for existing and new projects?

Absolutely. Flex SDK will continue to be developed, maintained and released as an open source project that Adobe actively contributes to.

You said that you believe HTML is the “long-term solution for enterprise applications” – can you clarify this statement?

HTML5 related technologies (comprising HTML, JavaScript and CSS) are becoming increasingly capable, such that we have every reason to believe that advances in expressiveness (e.g. Canvas), performance (e.g. VM and GPU acceleration in many browsers) and application-related capabilities (e.g. offline storage, web workers) will continue at a rapid pace. In time (and depending upon your application, it could be 3-5 years from now), we believe HTML5 could support the majority of use cases where Flex is used today.

However, Flex has now, and for many years will continue to have, advantages over HTML5 for enterprise application development – in particular:

  • Flex offers complete feature-level consistency across multiple platforms
  • The Flex component set and programming model makes it extremely productive when building complex application user interfaces
  • ActionScript is a mature language, suitable for large application development
  • Supporting tools (both Adobe’s and third-party) offer a productive environment with respect to code editing, debugging and profiling

Our announcements relating to changes in the way Flex SDK is developed do not change the fundamental value-add of Flex or make HTML5 suddenly more capable than it was last week.

We intend to make investments in HTML-related technologies, so that we can help advance HTML5 to make it suitable for enterprise applications.

Will Adobe provide migration tools to enable existing Flex applications to be converted to HTML/JavaScript?

We have undertaken some experimental work in this area, but remain unsure as to the viability of fully translating Flex-based content to HTML.

The Falcon JS cross-compiler, referenced above, represents this early work and we intend to contribute this to the open source project. 

What happens next?

We are actively working on the proposal for incubating Flex SDK and BlazeDS at the Apache Software Foundation. Once the proposals have been accepted, both Adobe and community contributors can begin committing contributions. We will share an update when the incubator proposal has been posted – we expect this to happen over the course of the next few weeks.

We are working on providing you with more detailed information relating to the open source contributions we are making, how you can contribute to Flex SDK and BlazeDS through Apache’s contribution model and our HTML5-related plans.

We’d like an opportunity to talk to as many Flex developers as possible in person about these changes – to that end, members of the Flex product team along with Adobe evangelists will be organizing a multi-city international tour to enable more direct discussions. Stay tuned for more information.

If there are any questions we have not addressed, please post them in the comments. We ask that you keep questions and comments on topic.

Andrew Shorten & Deepa Subramaniam
Group Product Managers, Adobe

Flex 4.6 specs posted to opensource.adobe.com

Flex 4.6 is the next major step in cross-platform mobile application development. With a scheduled release date later this year, the new version of Flex SDK will offer several new components and functionality specifically designed to help developers create applications for the latest mobile and tablet devices.

Flex SDK 4.6 was governed by three main goals:

  • New components
  • Better performance
  • Updated platform support

For more information, refer to the What’s new in Flex 4.6 SDK and Flash Builder 4.6 by Jacob Surber.

Though the Flex 4.6 SDK will be released only in the coming months, the team has posted the Specs for the new components out on opensource.adobe.com. You can access these specs at the Flex 4.6 SDK page.

Raghu Thricovil (@rthricov)
Product Manager, Flex SDK, Adobe